FON, the Madrid, Spain-based WiFi services company has bought the popular Firefox extension, GSpace, for an undisclosed amount, according company officials. The FireFox extension was developed by Rahul Jonna and allows users to treat their GMail accounts as an online file storage locker.
The extension will be integrated with a new device, called FON Liberator, company founder Martin Varsavsky informs us in an email. The device is going to be launched in February 2007, and it is essentially a FON router that will have a USB 2.0 port.
Any device– iPod, hard drive or a flash drive – can be plugged into the router and turn it into network-attached storage. GSpace users, when using the Liberator could easily transfer their files either to their GMail accounts or straight to their personal hard drives which are plugged into the Liberator via the USB port.
Liberator is based on an OpenWRT operating system and has a bundled web server. Among other features, FON is bundling applications into this new router. For instance, it is going to bundle a special BitTorrent client with the new device. It will also have features for folks to upload photos to say their Flickr account or videos to YouTube.
The Liberator will come with a special web-based interface that will allow FON users to offload their uploading and downloading from their computers to their routers. This web admin interface will allow you to access files from your local USB attached drive over the Internet.
Liberator is not the first device to turn a plain vanilla drive into network attached storage device. There are several options.
including Apple’s Airport Extreme (pricey.) Fabrik and its partners, Maxtor offer an easy to use storage drive, and so do several others. So why is FON doing this?
It is an attempt to make its network and service more attractive to users. If they can make the user experience simple enough, it would help attract new Foneros to the network.